In Westmond, the Old West Still Lives On

Walk past the old stagecoach, wagon and teepee up the creaking wood steps that lead inside Great Northwest Fur and Trading Post in Westmond, Idaho, and you'll start to get the feeling of the Old West. And after owner Bill Wood finishes developing this site just off Highway 95 into a frontier town with a genuine Western fort and teepee campground, that Old West feeling will be unmistakable.

The trading post is filled with seemingly endless displays of antique Western artifacts arranged neatly in glass display cases, as in a museum. The collection stems from Wood's lifetime passion and fascination with the Old West.

Wood's dream to recreate a Western frontier town is shared by neighbor Cindy McLaughlin, who is in the process of building her own piece of the Old West adjacent to the trading post. Within her three-story false-front home, McLaughlin uses traditional techniques of craftsmanship to recreate authentic buckskin clothing. She also creates original lampshades, artwork and other decorative items made of buckskin. Her wares are sold next door at Wood's store.

The passion the two share for authenticity are well-known to the museums and collectors who purchase their replicas and original artifacts of the Old West.

"Collecting artifacts has been an interest of mine since I was about six years old," explains Wood. "People thought I was a little crazy, but now these things are growing in value."

If the development goes as planned, Westmond would soon see a museum, general store, hotel, Mexican food cantina, 1880s saloon, rustic campground and more at the 7-acre site about 13 miles south of Sandpoint. Wood also has plans to restore the turn-of-the-century schoolhouse that is nearby.

After traveling extensively in the southwest, Wood settled in Heron, Mont., and opened his trading post at several locations in Sandpoint. McLaughlin's hometown of Hope, Idaho, is not far from Heron. And as fate would have it, they both ended up a stone's throw from each other in Westmond.

The Great Northwest Fur and Trading post is a great place to take the kids for an authentic taste of the Old West, according to Wood. The trading post also has a gift shop that carries a wide variety of Western artifacts and unique gifts for sale.

- Ben Silverman


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